These wine cupcakes are made with chocolate and red wine cupcakes that are topped with a chocolate and red wine buttercream frosting. The cupcakes are moist, light, delicious, and easy to make!
Putting drinks into the form of dessert is one of my favorite things to do, and these wine cupcakes are seriously amazing! You will love these for cocktail parties, special occasions, or to enjoy as an after dinner dessert.
The inspiration for these red wine cupcakes came from my favorite red velvet cake recipe, since I knew the mild chocolate flavor would go great with the red wine. I swapped the usual buttermilk in the recipe and replaced it with red wine instead, and I could not be happier with how well these turned out! The cupcakes had an amazing taste and texture, and they rose up with perfectly domed-tops.
To top the cupcakes I used a red wine buttercream frosting, it's light, fluffy, not too sweet, and really brings out the subtle wine flavor in the cupcakes.
Key Ingredients for Wine Cupcakes
Cake flour: Cake flour gives the cupcakes a softer, more velvety texture. If you don't have any, you can make your own by sifting all-purpose flour and cornstarch together a few times until light and airy.
Baking soda: A powerful leavener that lifts the cupcakes up during baking. Make sure it isn't expired or the cupcakes won't work. You can always check by mixing a little vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl, the stronger the reaction, the better!
Cocoa powder: Just a hint of chocolate in the cupcakes and in the frosting enhances the flavor of the wine. Since cocoa powder tends to clump up, always sift it before adding it in.
Butter: It's important that your butter is properly softened or you won't be able to cream it with the sugar. It should be firm enough to hold its shape but be easily pliable when gently pressed in. You can speed up softening by cutting the butter into smaller pieces.
Eggs: Room temperature. Take the eggs out of the fridge one hour before using, or place them in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for about 5 minutes.
Red wine: I used cabernet sauvignon, but you can use any variety of wine you like. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive, you can also use buttermilk instead of the wine.
Sour cream: Adds a lot of moisture and richness to the cupcakes without making the batter too thin.
Gel food coloring (optional): To get a more vibrant color I added a small drop of gel red food coloring to the cupcake batter and also the frosting. Without it the cupcakes will be slightly reddish brown and the frosting will be light pink.
How to Make Wine Cupcakes
Arrange your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, use an electric mixer or the paddle attachment to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy with no lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat until well combined with the butter and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed until just combined after each. Wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the red wine and sour cream and mix on low speed until smooth.
In 2-3 additions, add the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until combined and smooth with no pockets of flour remaining. Don't overmix.
Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Red Wine Buttercream Frosting
- Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature.
- Powdered sugar
- Cocoa powder: Sift to get rid of any clumps before adding it to the frosting.
- Heavy whipping cream: Cold, whipped in a separate bowl until thick.
- Granulated sugar: 1 tablespoon, added to the whipped heavy cream.
- Red wine: Any kind you like!
- Salt: Just a pinch to bring out flavors and cut down on sweetness.
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream to a clean and dry glass bowl or a glass measuring cup and use an electric mixer to whip it for 20-30 seconds or until starting to thicken. Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of red wine and mix until light and fluffy, like whipped cream.
- In a separate, large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, and mix on low speed until mostly combined. Add the red wine whipped cream, sifted cocoa powder, and salt, and mix until the frosting is fluffy and smooth. If it's too thin you can add a little more powdered sugar, or chill it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Add the frosting to a large piping bag with an extra large piping tip and frost the cupcakes as desired. I used a Wilton 2D piping tip to frost these cupcakes.
How to Store & Freeze Cupcakes
Frosted cupcakes taste best within 1-2 days after they're made and stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To freeze the cupcakes (unfrosted): Once the cupcakes have cooled, arrange them on a baking pan in a single layer and set the pan in the freezer until the cupcakes are pretty solid. Add them to a large plastic bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and frost as desired.
To freeze cupcake batter: Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and add the cupcake batter to the liners. Set the muffin pan flat in the freezer until the batter is completely frozen. Remove the batter-filled liners from the pan and add them to a large plastic bag. Keep frozen for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to bake the cupcakes, add the batter-filled liners to the muffin pan and bake in a 350°F oven, a few minutes longer than the normal bake time, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
More Cupcake Recipes
- Electric mixer
- 1 and ½ cups cake flour*
- 1 and ½ tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup red wine*
- ¼ cup full-fat sour cream
- 1-2 drops gel red food coloring, optional
Red Wine Buttercream:
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine*
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Arrange your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, use an electric mixer or the paddle attachment to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until well combined with the butter and the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed until just combined after each. Add the red wine, sour cream, and gel coloring if using, and mix until just combined. Wipe down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- In 2-3 additions, add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined after each. Once all of the dry ingredients are added, mix until the batter is smooth with no pockets of flour.
- Divide the batter evenly between each of the cupcake liners. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Make the Wine Buttercream Frosting:
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream to a medium bowl or a glass measuring cup. Use an electric mixer to whip until starting to thicken, about 20-30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and red wine and whip until thick and fluffy, like whipped cream.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use an electric mixer or the paddle attachment to beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, the sifted cocoa powder, and salt, and mix on low speed until mostly combined. Add the red wine whipped cream and the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Add the frosting to a large piping bag with an extra-large piping tip inserted (I used a 2D tip) and pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.